There are many reasons I wouldn’t really want to live in Victorian times–child labor and tuberculosis spring to mind–but it was certainly a golden age for Halloween celebrations. In addition to the zillion games aimed at foretelling the future, there were things like the Dumb Supper: Some time before midnight on Halloween, set a table for you, your guests, and a spirit. You must not speak during the entire process. Cook a meal and set it on plates. Serve each plate walking backwards, then sit down and eat, all without talking. A spirit should appear at midnight and take a place at the table. (If you try this and it works, drop me a line.)
There aren’t many celebrations like that any more, but personal traditions still abound. A friend of mine lights a candle each Halloween for any friends and relatives who have died since last Halloween. It’s an old Celtic belief that those who leave after sunrise on November 1 remain on Earth until sundown on October 31; she sort of sends them on. I think that’s a lovely sentiment, and nicely in keeping with the mood of the day.
It’s not exactly a tradition, per se, but every year I keep watch for the big Virginia barn spiders to show up on our front porch. They appear out of nowhere every autumn, perfectly outfitted for the season in orange and black, and it doesn’t really feel like fall around here until two or three have set up shop outside the front door.
Today is also my wedding anniversary–which is a whole set of traditions all by itself–but Shadow Jack and I always nod to the holiday by exchanging Halloween-themed cards.
What special things do you do on Halloween? Share your traditions in the comments!
Note: I’m participating in the unfortunately-acronymed NaBloPoMo again this year, so there will be a post every day of November, including weekends. Can you hardly wait? I thought so.